I listened earlier to Bob Dylan singing ‘As I Went Out One Morning’ and put up a blog post about the revolutionary Tom Paine and the lyrics to the song (on Dylan’s 1968 John Wesley Harding album) and a photo of Bob receiving the 1963 Thomas Paine award (& how he went on a rant against the respectable liberal audience) & so it goes. In the end I decided to simply show this B&W art (Medieval Gamblers) created in Photoshop today via digital collage & possibly using elements of ink drawings. I could feel the atmosphere of the medieval inn, and textures like wood and burlap, and the mood of danger lurking. There seems to also be danger lurking here & now so it’s not so difficult to intuit. As for gambling I’ve never allowed others to gamble with me. At least I’ve tried & so it goes.
As I went out one morning To breathe the air around Tom Paine’s I spied the fairest damsel That ever did walk in chains I offer’d her my hand She took me by the arm I knew that very instant She meant to do me harm
“Depart from me this moment” I told her with my voice Said she, “But I don’t wish to” Said I, “But you have no choice” “I beg you, sir,” she pleaded From the corners of her mouth “I will secretly accept you And together we’ll fly south”
Just then Tom Paine, himself Came running from across the field Shouting at this lovely girl And commanding her to yield And as she was letting go her grip Up Tom Paine did run, “I’m sorry, sir,” he said to me “I’m sorry for what she’s done”
dried flowers scatter across a night-coloured carpet.
The seahorse-ghost of my cubistic, star-like obsidian heart
envelops the buried clock-tower.
Elsewhere, the poetry of Marina Tsvetaeva
chanting vast agriculture of poetry.
Haystack-man nimble as a shadow-animal
swims within buoyant
climbs an enormous staircase
enters an unlocked door.
His feet rise above tar-night shadow
skipping iike a child.
Elsewhere, the poetry of Marina Tsvetaeva
chanting the infinite mansions of poetry.
I wrote a short poem this morning in homage to Marina Tsvetaeva. The poem was spontaneous. A lifetime entered that quicksilver moment. I have revisited the poem and edited.
Wherever you are Marina, I accept your verdict.
Last night I read selections from Marina Tsvetaeva’s Art in the Light of Conscience: Eight Essays on Poetry (translated by Angela Livingstone).
‘Marina Tsvetaeva (1892-1941) was one of the four great Russian poets of the 20th century, along with Akhmatova, Mandelstam and Pasternak.’
‘For me, there are no essays on poetry as unique, as profound, as passionate, as inspiring as these. “Art, a series of answers for which there are no questions,” Tsvetaeva brilliantly asserts, and then goes on to ask questions we didn’t know existed until she offered them to us, and answers to some of poetry’s most enduring mysteries.’
My posting last week (Bring Out the Trees in the Heart) went from jumble to rumble. From first draft to resonance of final draft in real time over two or three days online editing.
I decided to make chicken soup yesterday but found one potato only. Should I walk 20 minutes & save 1.00 on a bag of organic potatoes or 40 minutes & save 1.75 at a small store I like. Instead I went down to the lakeshore with my artist friends Charles and Marc. We walked around in biting wind & driving thin snow discussing, among other things, the artist Cecily Brown.
A young artist this past week told me about the new movie Trial of the Chicago Seven and wondered what I knew about the subject matter. One thing is connected to another. It brought back a flood of connections I shared with him.
I had an old doctors’ bag like this, although black, the summer I was seventeen and headed out for California. Instead I ended up in a traveling carnival, one of the many that no longer exist, working for an artist who had a psychedelic tent show and two other attractions. I met & dialogued with the (late) artist’s daughter on Facebook.
I remembered the doctors’ bag after watching a few clips of the movie Trial of the ChicagoSeven on YouTube and instinctively compared now to then.
I juxtaposed an image from The Book of Kells with a photo found online showing friends or neighbours (or actors) eating dinner on TV trays in front of a television ‘set.’
My father told me once our family had the first television ‘set’ on the block. Yet still my parents and the neighbours, in the new subdivision built on chewed-up farmland, socialized on the street, in lawn chairs, late on summer nights beneath the stars (no glare of streetlights yet). Ice cubes, shaken from metal trays cracked open with a handle, floated in iced coffee served in metal drinking glasses. Sometimes my mother would call me to empty the glass ashtray. Glass and metal and dark. They remembered something about then.
Then felt closer to in the beginning.
Originally this post contained an oblique rhyming poem I edited, in real time throughout the day, down to two lines (above). This is writing to go with the images. It’s not a ‘received’ poem.
When I created the ‘wordless poem’ Never More Together (120 linocut prints – The Porcupine’s Quill) in 2014 I sometimes needed to answer questions like, ‘How is this a poem?’
So I wrote the poem Meditations on a Wordless Poem. In earlier versions I related it to the silent process of carving in lino and creating non-linear poetry via images. I recall describing how I warmed lino under a hot lamp (during a heat wave!) so it would be easier to carve. In the poem found below I abandoned such descriptions, focusing more on the metaphysical. One thing leads to another.
In 2020 Konrad Skreta and I co-directed a 32:28 poetry/art (animation) video based on this poem. Because of Covid, and disruptions, or so I tell myself, I am just now getting around to submitting the video (titled Ode to a Wordless Poem) to festivals.
I watched it again today. Konrad embellished my poetry and images (text-art & visual poetry) by composing ever-shifting & evocative geometric and organic designs. & Within a landscape of psyche, perception and shadow the music too, as well as Konrad’s soundscape, is hypnotic. One thing leads to another.
Meditations on a Wordless Poem
The poem is an image & the image is a poem
Poem is an image passing through the body.
Image contains the rhythmic incantation of voice manipulating shapes
And visual balance –
Image passes into and through the body, embracing rhythmic incantations.
The alchemy of poetry transfigures a blank page into a sequence
Of comprehension –
A sequence of psychic incantation configures the blank page.
The process of transfiguring dross and creating gold
Is recorded two-dimensionally –
A sequence of shapes and visual balance enter your body as
Symbols meet texture in a relationship spanning theory and time.
Theory and time, in place of words, pass through your body.
Epic poetry resembles line and movement
An ancient voice extends invisible realities into song
Songs of prehistory rush forward, intersecting with our surveillance state.
A visual poem is like a city
As the lights go off, a new sound emerges of all that has gone before
Missing words, animals, plants and civilizations are replaced
Epic poetry rushes forward containing new information.
Poetry, pulsing, aims within a sequence of images
Invisible line responds, summoning persona, questing,
Transmitting erotic signals
Light hollows any false reflection
New information transmits erotic signals
The lights in a city fade
Street by street.
As the image is read the pulse of the work transfigures
Surrealism speaks of fragrance and desire
Alchemy embodies fragrance
The alchemical poem juxtaposes human need and the impossible
Human desire interfaces with the surveillance state
The white of the page recorded two-dimensionally
The fragrance of light a dreaming of desire.
Subconscious language is dream entwining both image and word within
Phenomena as natural as the elements.
Original idea & mind entwine both image and dream
Negative space surrounds the image suggesting a missing fragment of verse.
Ecology and psyche blur in the composition of the wordless poem
Suggesting a missing fragment of verse.
The alchemical juxtaposes with the social.
Missing plants and animals pass through your body, a type of social architecture
A type of shorthand evolves, culturally recognized as poetry.
Stanzas and passages translate visually within atmospheres of memory.
Images float in a psychic space of precognition.
Pictograms evolve in the composition of the wordless poem, as ecology and psyche blur.
The fragrance of light is an image passing through your body &
Recognized culturally, in social architecture, as a poem.
Blink your eyes while you turn the page in torchlight & you realize
I received a book on the Spanish artist Goya – the biography by Robert Hughes – for Christmas. It’s in the queue. I’m finishing a book on Picasso set in Paris in the early 1900s. He’s working on Les Demoiselles d’Avignon and in competition with Matisse. The author, Miles J. Unger, puts a fair amount of detail into Picasso’s Spanish youth and trips home.
During the first lockdown I watched many (contemporary) Russian TV (episodic) programs about WW2. Some incorporated archival footage. Vosnesensky, born in Moscow, was 8 or 9 during the Nazi invasion, encirclement, and Battle of Moscow.